The Crawfish Diaries (Part 2)

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris April 22, 2021 04:57 in Dining Diary

As I have said a few times before, my love affair with crawfish waxes and wanes. It was in a big wane that had lasted a few years when the world as we knew it changed forever. You, know...COVID.) 

Out of sheer boredom I revisited the subject of whether or not I actually liked crawfish. This was easy to do as restaurants, suddenly faced with no customers, were frantically adapting by enticements of things like crawfish boils to go. To recap, I wound up picking up a lot of different boils to measure them against each other, as we at NOMENU switched to reporting on something Tom has always railed against: take out food.

There is a vast difference in boils, and it turned out to be a fun project. It culminated in a crawfish tart I will measure against any I have had. My nephew, connoisseur of all things crawfish, gave this tart rave reviews and forwarded it on to all his expat friends, who each year spend countless amounts of cash on shipping their favorite little mudbug to their home, wherever.

This year, I continued my crawfish explorations, inspired by drive thru crawfish. Turns out this is actually a brilliant idea. Last week in Part 1 I gave a thumbs up to the spice level of Drive Thru Crawfish, and a thumbs down to the original Bayou Boil N’ Geaux (double thumbs up for both names). Bayou Boil N’ Geaux definitely serves the biggest critters, and these provide meatiness to any dish, provided the spice is coming from other crawfish. 

I made more crawfish dip this week, collecting crawfish from Vera’s and Acquistapace’s, with Bayou Boil N’ Geaux adding bulk. None of these had the spice level of Drive Thru, or Mandeville Seafood, so the dip was good but not great as it was last week. It’s definitely more trouble, but worth it to try a few and blend them.

Last week we were Uptown on Freret and passed a tiny place called Windowsill Pies. I thought it a whimsical idea the moment I saw the sign up for this place, and I was glad to finally try it. We got a crawfish pie and a quiche. The bill was $32. I called to check how that could be and learned the crawfish pie was $16. It was barely more than six inches in diameter, but it was at least three inches high. The crust was thick and perfect, pinched just so and golden brown.

This was the crust of my dreams, impossibly flaky, buttery, and substantial. Once cut, the insides practically exploded out like an overstuffed closet that is opened. Chopped-everything-from-a-boil tumbled to the void, but there was no creaminess. It was just stuff with no sauce, so it was dry. I was disappointed by this at first, but the more I ate the better I liked it. And that crust!

NOTE: The quiche from Windowsill Pies had no crawfish in it that day, but it was the best quiche I may have ever had, and I don’t like a soft center. The flavor was that good, so good I overlooked the dense creaminess of the filling.

If you prefer a regular pie crust over a puff pastry crust, take all of the ingredients from the tart and add some cream and crawfish stock, or a bechamel with stock, and fill a regular pie crust. Or make hand pies.

Here is a recipe for a 9 inch crust top and bottom:

Sift together 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 tsp salt and, using a pastry blender, cut in a stick of room temp butter.

Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix with a fork, making sure it becomes a dough. If it is too sticky add some flour. It shouldn't stick to the bowl or your hands. It should be a tidy ball. Put some flour on a cutting board and roll it out. Divide in half and line the bottom pan. Crimp the edges of the top crust. If you are doing hand pies, cut circles or rectangles and fold over after filling. Be sure to “glue” edges with egg and seal with a fork.

And the dip I made last week works well as a filling for beignets, which are easily made with biscuit dough from a can cut into fours and rolled out. These are also sealed and deep fried.

Serve beignets and hand pies with a remoulade sauce, easily made by mixing mayo with Creole mustard in equal parts.

So here are two different crawfish-based fillings, both versatile enough to fill crusts or to use as appetizers like dips, or dippers.

And I’ll keep the crawfish experiments going, as long as the crawfish keep coming.